Thursday, July 28, 2011

Poetic Resonance -- Ulysses and Mim

Years and years ago I first read the poem, Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson. One line lodged forever in my brain/psyche/soul:

“I am part of all that I have met;”

There are more lines of course. The poem is a dramatic monologue and pretty macho. The narrator does not want to sit around and rule his little kingdom; he wants to set off with his buddies on perpetual adventures until he is enfolded in the ‘eternal silence.’

I can identify with the last stanza:

“Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are,
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Oh yes, ‘that which I am, I am’ – not as young, not as strong – but still striving, still searching, still trying to contribute whatever I am to whomever or whatever might need me.

But, for me, that one line needs expanding. Yes, “I am part of all that I have met” but, more accurately, all that I have met is part of me – all the people, all the places -- the entire rainbow of human cultures and the abundant and infinitely variegated planet. The beauty that pervades existence.

I am grateful to Tennyson. Poets plant thoughts that grow into our souls and, lo! become a part of us.

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